By Paul Morrone, CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
I’m quickly realizing that one of the greatest joys of a parent is when your child takes interest in the same things as you. While the function of my day job is largely incomprehensible to a child, at least when compared to something like a firefighter or police officer, my hobbies and interests are front and center as part of our day-to-day life. As Kyle and Ryan have gotten older, I continue to be amazed by what they choose to engage in and for how long they can stay interested. Are they going to be lifelong football fans? Or is it just the flavor of the moment? Only time will tell, but there are certain things that I hope they look back on with the same fondness I have in my childhood memories watching basketball games as a family or going to the Traveler’s Championship golf tournament (back when it was the GHO) with my dad. Right now, things are more limited to TV than in person, but we are now having more opportunities to introduce the kids to live sports – and I absolutely love it.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing better than watching the Masters on TV and hearing Kyle ask me out of the blue “How’s Scottie (Scheffler) doing!?” His question is shortly followed by Ryan asking about Tiger, and, sadly, I have to tell him that he is still injured. While the boys may not sit still on the couch and intently watch a game like an adult would, they are always aware of what’s on and you’ll commonly see them zone into the TV for a moment – often with a toy still in hand – when something exciting is happening.
Whether its football on Sunday (RIP the NY Giants this year…) or watching the F1 races, both boys have taken a genuine interest in sports in the same way I have. Now that they are older and involved with sports themselves, they appreciate seeing games live and in-person more than ever before. And it just so happens that we have the National Champion UCONN Husky basketball team right in our back yard, what a perfect introduction for a first-time fan. Needless to say, I’m a longtime UCONN fan (and alumnus from the UCONN School of Business for my MS), as is Jill, and have supported them through the Jim Calhoun era, followed by the trials tribulations of conference reorganizations, coaching challenges and, most recently, successes as a team. The kids now, too, follow the Huskies and I genuinely look forward to watching games as a family. My kids only know UCONN as national champions, which is certainly not a bad first memory!
I took Kyle to a game last year, and he’s asked no less than a hundred times when he could go back. I promised him and Ryan that we’d go to a game or two this year and had to deliver on that promise. What’s great about going to see a college basketball game with children is that the games are typically around 2 hours in time – which is good when a child’s attention span lasts about as long as the bag of popcorn in their lap. And when games are hosted at the XL center, it’s an easy drive, parking and exit when the game is over. All plusses when you have a couple of hungry or tired kids attached to your leg. Most importantly, it’s an awesome experience for everyone involved, even for the parents. And the fans are great – who doesn’t love two adorable kids dressed in their UCONN best?!
Our most recent family adventure was last weekend at the UCONN vs Mississippi Valley State game – which was a blowout, to say the least, but it didn’t matter because the kids had a ball. I was a little worried about Ryan, only three and a half, getting overwhelmed in such a large venue with crowds. My fears were quickly squashed as he took it all in with a smile and fed off the energy in the stadium. Our only missed opportunity – we didn’t make it on the jumbotron. Something to strive for next time!